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God or King?

by Jul 4, 2024Friar Reflection

In today’s first reading the prophet Amos is accused of treason against the Israelite king Jeroboam by the priest Amaziah: “Amos has conspired again you… For this is what Amos says: Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land.”  Amaziah is a priest at the royal sanctuary at Bethel.  He is compromised and puts the will of the king before the will of God.  He therefore tries to silence and get rid of the prophet Amos.  The response of Amos makes clear that the will of God comes before the will of the king: “I was not a prophet…I was a shepherd…The Lord took me…and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”

In a similar way in today’s Gospel Jesus puts God’s will before the will of some of his religious leaders.  They accuse him of blasphemy for declaring forgiveness of sins but Jesus counters by healing the paralytic: “…that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

Today we celebrate Independence Day, a day to give thanks for our freedom.  We give thanks to God for all those who have sacrificed much for freedom.  It is also a day to reflect on the true meaning of Christian freedom.  St. Paul teaches that we are only truly free when we do not do our own will but God’s will.  Jesus not only teaches this way of true freedom but incarnates this teaching in his daily life.  God’s will comes even before his own will: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” (Mark 14:36).

We are called to be like the prophet Amos and like Jesus.  Amos and Jesus challenged both religious and political leaders.  They put the will of God before the will of kings and religious leaders.  In a similar way we are called, like the prophet Amos, to challenge those leaders, be they political or religious, who preach lies, hatred and revenge.  Let us pray today for all of those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and we ask God to guide our way forward as a country and as individuals.

Image: “Prophet Amos Icon” by bobosh_t is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.